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Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Heat triggers power outage at western edge of Lawrence

August 2, 2011

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All the air conditioners in the world don’t do any good battling record-setting temperatures unless they have electricity to run them.

David Dye can vouch for that.

Dye, whose home backs up to the western edge of Lawrence near the South Lawrence Trafficway, endured his home being without power since about 2:30 p.m. or so, an outage that lasted about two hours.

The property was among 75 of the dozens of customers in the area served by Kaw Valley Electric, a Topeka-based cooperative with services in western and northwestern Douglas and five other counties.

“We lose power quite frequently,” said Dye, busy making arrangements for himself and his 2-year-old child to stay the night elsewhere, in case the power outage endures. “Just not on days like today.”

Crews spent two hours fixing the root of the outage: an equipment failure, one caused by the extreme heat, said Kevin Gregg, a spokesman for the co-op. The company has been working through several outages in its service area, as heat spurs heavy energy use.

Westar Energy reports that its electric loads continue to hit highs for the year. Last week, as 100-degree days piled up, Westar’s system hit a peak production of a record 5,563 megawatts, up 1.6 percent from the record set a year earlier.

“We invest in regular maintenance of our power plants to ensure they are ready for the rigors of hot Kansas summers, and they have performed admirably this summer as Mother Nature has put them to the test,” said John Bridson, Westar’s vice president for generation. “With forecasts continuing to show high temperatures, we are prepared to maintain this high output and ensure our customers have the electricity they need.”

Westar has not had any heat-related outages during the recent heat wave, and the Lawrence Energy Center north of town has continued to produce electricity without interruption, said Gina Penzig, a Westar spokeswoman.

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